Monday, April 29, 2013
Some brilliant "poet" said, "Life's no picnic."
Everywhere I go, people kindly ask me how I'm feeling. The further I get from finishing chemo, the more I realize that this cancer journey isn't over so quickly for most people. There's not a "cure" for cancer. There are some amazing miracle stories out there and you have to cling to them and believe that a miracle can be your own. I'm very good at doing that and I do have a lot of faith. Mostly.
I've made a lot of new friends on this journey. Some of them had cancer and are Survivors. Some are Previvors. Many of my new friends are still unsure. After completing treatment and entering Remission, you have the ability and the freedom to do anything. I guess people can use the term, "cured", in retrospect... when they're G-d willing 80-something and it's been decades since they entered Remission... but as my Grandpa Ben, of blessed memory who lived to the magnificent age of 97, used to say, "Nobody knows". Cancer is still a mystery like the mystery of fertility or the After Life. Anyone who solves this mystery and discovers the magic ball that will predict the outcome is either G-d or the future's most brilliant scientist!
I have some awesome days! ...And sometimes I feel sick. It's not an emotional-kind-of-sick. There's a bit of a racket surrounding cancer. It's messy. Abdominal surgery messes up your insides. There can be scarring, adhesions. Not to mention the jumble left after certain organs are removed. Something has to fill the void. Hormonal imbalances. Chemotherapy messes with your brain. It erases certain things. Chemo Brain is a real thing. So, it's not surprising that even after you graduate from cancer treatment that the whole cancer journey doesn't just end even if you're in Remission and hopeful to leave cancer in the dust. Cancer is lunacy. With the constant looming threat of Cancer hovering in my space, I could almost go insane on a bad day. I'm pretty responsible and I'm taking care of business. Following up after all the annoying signs and symptoms. Some require tests and action and others require patience and maybe even some alternative healing. I'm extremely grateful to my oncologist, who makes himself available and hears me. His concern is genuine. One of the things I'm forced to tolerate are the loving, well-meaning people, who think that they're gifted with the ability to predict the future. I will never tell someone who has/had cancer that I "know" they're fine or that I'm sure those painful symptoms that they're experiencing are "normal" or "just in their head" or "to be expected" or WHATEVER. It seems to be that there's some kind of auto-response that has to be given and You know I'm going to "fight it" or "beat it". You might hope or pray but that's no guarantee. We don't have all the answers and I know that's difficult and makes us feel powerless. We are all powerless but that's Life. I have to live with that powerlessness every single day. We all do.
Sadly, there are people who never completely "beat" cancer and it's not because they didn't pray and "fight" and try hard enough! Sometimes cancer doesn't go away. This is my blog so I'm only speaking for me when I say this and this is how I cope. I need to be okay with the worst case scenario. That's how I lower my own anxiety. This is something my dad taught me when I was freaking out in my first year of university. What if I fail?!! I managed to get myself into such a state just at the horrific thought of flunking... that my blood pressure skyrocketed and I was so physically ill, it was a bit ridiculous. My dad helped me through by helping me envision the worst case scenario and planning out how I would overcome and come out on top. What would happen if I failed? I'd have to find something else to do... would I drop dead? Would my life be over? Heck no! And that's how I learned to control my own blood pressure and I never suffered such intense anxiety again. There's always a way out. No matter how "awful" or "horrible" the situation may seem, there's something else beyond it. Even cancer. Even a relapse or a recurrence. Even death. AND I'm not a quitter or a loser or being a negative "stinkin' thinkin'"gal because I cope this way. Actually, I'm happy to say that I think I cope pretty darn indubitably well.
It's not only about Cancer. That's just life. Some brilliant "poet" said, "Life's no picnic.". Obviously they were right, not to say that we can't stop and have a few picnics on the way to wherever we're going. YES! It's all going to be okay. NO! I don't know what's going to be. I just know that I need to believe that it's all going to be okay. Even if it doesn't go my way every time.